AJust before Chancellor Olaf Scholz's visit to Washington, US President Joe Biden caused a stir with an embarrassing slip of the tongue relating to Germany. At an election campaign event in New York on Wednesday (local time), the 81-year-old shared an often-recited anecdote from the G7 summit in 2021, confusing former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) with the late former head of government Helmut Kohl (CDU). ). The faux pas led foreign journalists to mockingly ask whether Biden actually knew which German head of government he was currently dealing with. Biden will receive Scholz this Friday for bilateral talks in the White House.
At the election campaign appearance in New York, according to reporters traveling with him, Biden once again told the story of his first summit of the seven major G7 economic powers after taking office in 2021. At the time, he announced to the group that America was back, Biden said. The French President looked at him and replied: “For how long?” Next, Helmut Kohl from Germany turned to him and asked what he would think if he suddenly read in the newspaper that the British Parliament had been stormed.
The summit took place in Great Britain in June 2021, a few months after the violent storming of the US Capitol. Merkel was at the table for Germany. Kohl had already been dead for four years – he died in 2017.
Constant topic in the election campaign
Biden is the oldest US president ever. Slips of the tongue, small slip-ups and missteps happen to him on a regular basis. Just a few days ago he confused French President Emmanuel Macron with one of his predecessors, François Mitterrand. At least two names that start with M.
Biden has used the episode from the 2021 G7 summit many times in speeches – and has also confused it several times. He usually attributes the comment about the imaginary storm on the British Parliament to the then British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. But once at the beginning of the year, Biden also said: “I think it was the Italian Prime Minister who said that.” Another time, in August 2022, Biden said that former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was at the G7 summit sat at the table (Schmidt died in 2015). The US President quickly corrected himself and added: “I mean Scholz”, but then also noticed this mistake and finally said: “What am I actually talking about?” Scholz has only been Chancellor since the end of 2021.
Biden wants to run for a second term in the US presidential election in November, and his old age is a constant issue in the election campaign. Regular blunders provide a lot of political attack for his opponents, who doubt whether Biden is fit enough for the powerful office.